My second day in Houston found me getting up and out early going to the other side of town near The Galleria to visit the Gerald D. Hines Waterwall and Williams Tower, both designed by Philip Johnson and John D, Burgee. The Waterwall was to be a "horseshoe of rushing water" opposite Williams Tower. The semi-circular fountain is 64 feet tall, to symbolize the 64 floors of the tower, and sits amongst 118 live Texas oak trees. The concave portion of the circle, which faces north toward the tower, is fronted by a "proscenium arch" shorter than the fountain itself. The convex portion, its backside, faces south onto Hidalgo Street. Water cascades in vast channeled sheets from the narrower top rim of the circle to the wider base below, both on the concave side and on the convex side. This creates a visually striking urban waterfall that can be viewed from various buildings around. Again, architecture at its best, and another “must see” when visiting Houston.
Back to my side of town…I decided to leave the car at the hotel and do some extensive walking since I’m familiar with the areas I need to go into. I started my walk around the corner on Main Street and I saw another Metro Streetcar coming my way. After capturing it, I turned to photograph Floyd Newsum's “Planter and Stems” sculptures at the Main Street Square train stop. From there, on Fannin Street I photographed a building with four vertical squared “openings” coming down the front. I thought this was a pretty cool looking building to shoot. First City Tower is the name of that building designed by Morris Architects. Next, I came across the Root Memorial Square basketball court, which I was told is “always poppin’”. Other highlights at the Square are the awesome views of downtown Houston and the Carter Ernst and Paul Kittelson Root Square Heritage Lanterns. Across the street is Toyota Center, which I visited the previous day, but took this opportunity for more photo opps.
My next stop is Discovery Green Park. Discovery Green is a public urban park downtown. Opened in 2008, Discovery Green is located on Avenida de las Americas, across from the George R. Brown Convention Center and the Hilton Americas Hotel. The park includes a lake, bandstands, venues for public performances, two dog runs, a children's area and multiple recreational areas. While walking in the park, I see some very colorful art that strikes my interest. Sunny Sliger and Marianne Newsom of The Color Condition has an art installation called “Arcade (Hopscotch)” , which consists of strips of tablecloths, shower curtains and painters’ drop cloths, and is on display in an overhead passageway extending the length of “Maconda’s Grove”. Another one of their art installations called “Arcade (Double Dutch)” reaches over three lanes of Avenida de las Americas, between the park and the George R. Brown Convention Center. On the far end of the park is a “Houston Strong” banner made from The Color Condition members. Jim Dine's “The House (Heart)” sculpture and Margo Sawyer's “Synchronicity Of Color” sculpture also sits in the park. Outside the George R. Brown Convention Center is a kinetic sculpture called “Wings Over Water” by Joe O'Connell and Creative Machines. The sculpture is composed of two massive wings that beat continuously creating the sense of progress and movement. Around the world, the symbol of birds flying into the air has cultural and spiritual associations representing hope. The sculpture makes the connection between human and avian migration thereby reflecting Houston’s diverse population and the idea that people come to Houston to have a better future. I also stopped at the Gateway Fountain and Jean Dubuffet's massive red, white and blue “Monument au Fantôme” sculpture. Across the way is the Marriott Marquis Houston Hotel, where former Houston Astros baseball player Craig Biggio's Biggio's Sports Bar Restaurant resides. While walking past a Texas State Flag, I stop to photograph the Annunciation Catholic Church on the corner of Texas and Crawford. The Church remains the oldest existing Church in Houston, and is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Houston’s Union Station is one of my final stops during my time here. Right next door, and actually built within Union Station is Minute Maid Park. I visited Minute Maid Park a couple days ago, but this time I decide to spend more time. This time I actually got the chance to walk around the park to photograph the various player statues in The Plaza. I also got a sneak peek inside the park while grounds crewmen were working on the field. I also saw a few Houston Astros and World Series banners hanging on balconies across from the park.
Walking through the Historic District on Texas Avenue heading back towards my hotel, I photograph the Houston Area Urban League, Episcopal Diocese of Texas and the Federal Detention Center. As I approach my hotel from a different side, I notice a Stowers Building Historic Landmark plaque on the building. The Aloft Houston Downtown Hotel was originally built for the G.A. Stowers Furniture Company (still in business) in 1913. It was renovated around 2006, and is the only building on its block left untouched during the construction of BG Group Place (formerly Main Place).